Hadassah Ein Kerem coroanvirus ward
Hadassah Ein Kerem coroanvirus ward Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

The Omicron variant is more resistant to vaccines, but also causes less severe cases of COVID-19, a major South African study found.

According to The Washington Post, the private study, by Discovery Health, showed that Omicron is more resistant to two doses of the Pfizer-BIoNTech vaccine.

At the same time, it seems to cause less severe illness than earlier variants.

Discovery Health is South Africa's largest health insurer. Its study included 211,000 positive COVID-19 cases, and showed that the risk of hospitalization for adults was 29% less than during the initial wave in March.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine offered 33% protection against infection from Omicron, but 70% protection against severe complications which require hospitalization.

Omicron was confirmed as a new variant on November 25, but in the few weeks since then it has become the dominant coronavirus variant in South Africa.